Know Your Family and Personal Health History

Know Your Family and Personal Medical History

This post is for general informational and educational purposes only. Please refer to the Disclaimer. It is recommended that you seek advice from your medical practitioner if you require specific medical advice.

Knowing Your Medical History is Essential

It is important to keep a track of your health history, especially your family’s history of diseases and other health issues. Your family’s medical history can reveal a pattern of certain diseases which may indicate whether there is a familial risk for developing a medical condition. Common diseases that can crop up in families are:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease – heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes
  • Kidney disorders
  • Diabetes and other endocrine diseases
  • Asthma
  • Genetic disorders such as haemophilia and Down syndrome
  • Some types of mental illness
  • Osteoporosis
  • Huntingtons disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Albinism

Some diseases are caused by mutations in a gene, while others are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors such as diet, exposure to toxins, skin damage by exposure to UV light, and substance abuse. Further information is available from Health Direct at this link.

It is important to know your family's health history because it may show an inherited disease.  This post includes a printable medical history form to record your personal and family health.
It is important to know your family’s health history because it may show an inherited disease. This post includes a printable medical history form to record your personal and family health.

My Own Family Medical History

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Sue Loncaric for her series Women Living Well Over 50. One of the subjects we discussed was the importance of knowing your family and personal medical history. I shared my own family history of cancer, and how it lead me to have genetic testing to diagnose me with BRCA2 gene mutation which puts me in a high risk for certain cancers.

My family also has a high risk of cardiovascular disease and I have a congenital heart defect which was inherited from my father. Knowing my risk meant that I could have increased surveillance and appropriate treatment at an earlier stage, before I developed cancer or cardiac issues.

Knowing your family history can guide your doctor to investigate and treat you for medical conditions in their early stages or even prevent them before they occur. For example, because I have BRCA2 I had my ovaries and breasts removed before I developed cancer. I also started on cholesterol reducing medications before I developed plaque which could have lead to blocked arteries (arteriosclerosis).

My family has a high risk for melanoma so I have taken my sons for yearly skin checks since they were young. My son developed a melanoma at 24, but it was diagnosed at stage 1 and he is now cured. This is due to the regular check-ups and knowing our family history. We both now have 6 monthly skin checks.

Knowing your family health history is important because it could highlight hereditary medical conditions or risk of disease. It can guide doctors to investigate symptoms further and even guide them towards choosing one form of treatment over another. Drawing up a family tree may help to pinpoint certain diseases in the family. Using my own family as an example, your family tree may look like this:

Example of a family tree showing important health history.  BRCA2 gene mutation has been passed down to two generations.  It has an increased risk of breast, ovarian, pancreatic and prostate cancer and may also cause an increased risk of melanoma and other cancersMy Family Tree showing Our Health History

Keeping track of your personal health history is also important. I write everything down and update my records to keep a track of medications, allergies, illnesses and operations, vaccinations and the contact details of the medical practitioners who treat me.

The file is updated regularly and I carry a copy in my handbag in the event of a medical emergency. I cannot count the number of times I have had to refer to it. Keeping track of allergies, immunisations, medications and what procedures you have had done, is easy with this Personal and Medical Family History form.

Personal and Family Medical History

I have developed a useful printable personal and family medical history form that you may use. Print a separate copy for each member of the family and keep it somewhere safe. There is a printable version at the end of the post:

PERSONAL AND FAMILY HEALTH HISTORY 

Personal Medical Information

Name 


Date of Birth 

Place Born


Address



Next of Kin

Name


Contact No. Or Address


Medicare No.


Medical Insurance Policy: 

Provider:                        Card/Policy No.


Concessions


Social Security/DVA No.


Allergies 

MedicationReactionSeverity

Vaccinations

VaccinationDateVaccinationDate

Medical Conditions 

Medical ConditionDate Diagnosed

Surgical Procedures 

DateProcedureDoctorHospital

Medications

MedicationDoseFrequencyPurpose

Major Illnesses

IllnessDateDoctor

General Practitioner 

Name


Address


Phone


Medical Specialist

Name


Address


Phone


Surgical Specialist 

Name


Address


Phone


Medical Specialist 

Name


Address


Phone


Surgical Specialist 

Name


Address


Phone



Additional Notes









Family Medical History

Father 

Medical conditions 


If deceased – Age & Cause


Mother

Medical conditions 


If deceased – Age & cause


Children

Medical conditions 


If deceased  – Age & Cause


Brothers/Sisters

Medical Conditions 


If deceased – Age & Cause 


Grandparents

Paternal Grandfather – Medical Conditions 


If deceased  – Age & Cause


Paternal Grandmother – Medical Conditions 


If deceased  – Age & Cause 


Maternal Grandfather  – Medical Conditions 


If deceased  – Age & Cause 


Maternal Grandmother  – Medical Conditions 


If deceased  – Age & Cause 


Aunts/Uncles

Significant Medical Conditions


If deceased  – Age & Cause

Write significant hereditary medical conditions on this family tree

Printable Family and Personal Medical History Form

Download and print as many copies as you like. You will need one for each member of the family.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like to read:

Signs You Need to See a Doctor

Being a Patient in the Midst of a Pandemic

Beating BRCA2 – How it Has Affected my Life

Please share this article as it may help someone else.

2 thoughts on “Know Your Family and Personal Medical History”

  1. katey26 says: July 29, 2020 at 10:03 am Edit The form is a great idea Like Reply
    1. Christina Henry says: July 29, 2020 at 7:23 pm Edit Thankyou Katey. I’m glad you like it Liked by 1 person Reply
  2. Jo says: July 29, 2020 at 10:06 am Edit This is a fabulous resource Christine. Two of my grandparents were heavy smokers and died of lung cancer (paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother – at 94), my maternal grandfather passed from complications of a routine operation and my paternal grandmother died of old age (at 98). My mother (78) is as healthy and fit as a horse, but my father (82) has had prostate cancer, non TB lung disease and asthma. Number 6 in 8 kids he lost his eldest brother at 92, but all others are living. All of Mum’s siblings are still living. My husband, however, was adopted and we know nothing at all of his family history. You have definitely got me thinking. #MLSTL Liked by 1 person Reply
    1. Christina Henry says: July 29, 2020 at 7:28 pm Edit Hi Jo, somehow I think you will have a long life! It must be difficult for your husband at times, not knowing his family history. I had my DNA tested through Ancestry.com and found a new first cousin who was adopted. That’s one way your husband could find family if he ever wanted to know. Regards Christina Liked by 1 person Reply
      1. Jo says: July 31, 2020 at 7:56 am Edit Yes, we’ve done the DNA testing, but the closest matches we got were 3rd/4th cousins. We’ve also now got a birth certificate so the next step is to see if we can getthe records unlocked (Scotland). Liked by 1 person
      2. Christina Henry says: July 31, 2020 at 12:31 pm Edit Oh wow! Good luck with it. Liked by 1 person
  3. leannelc says: July 29, 2020 at 7:38 pm Edit Hi Christine – I take my family’s medical history for granted and keep forgetting about the diseases etc that took some of them early. My father died in his early 70’s but that was largely from poor lifestyle choices, however you’ve reminded me of the heart issues in my mother’s side of the family that I need to keep in mind as I get older. I’m grateful that overall we’re a pretty healthy bunch.
    #MLSTL Liked by you Reply
    1. midlifestylist says: July 30, 2020 at 2:45 pm Edit Hi Leanne, I unfortunately inherited some dodgy genes from my dad, so I envy you having a healthy family. Luckily all the creativity we inherited came from my parents so you take the good with the bad. Some people prefer to put their head in the sand with health issues but I think it’s better to keep family history in mind and get on to it quickly if anything worries you. Thank you for commenting, regards Christina Like Reply
  4. Debbie says: July 29, 2020 at 9:29 pm Edit Hi Christina, this is a wonderful resource and your reasons behind it are really informative. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas with us. We are looking at issues with my grandson and family backgrounds are proving required information. Very timely to read your post #mlstl Liked by you Reply
    1. midlifestylist says: July 30, 2020 at 2:47 pm Edit Hi Debbie, I’m so glad you found it useful. I really hope it helps with your grandson. Thank you so much for your feedback, regards Christina Liked by 1 person Reply
  5. Helen says: July 30, 2020 at 12:34 am Edit This is so important! I come from a family that does not talk about family illnesses and It too a long time to draw the information out! It also helped remove some of the shame I was feeling when I realized that some of my medical conditions were not my fault, but actually due to family history. Like Reply
    1. midlifestylist says: July 30, 2020 at 2:38 pm Edit Hi Helen, yes I agree. The time for sweeping things under a rug is long gone. I still have family who choose to put their head in the sand where it comes to their health and I definitely disagree with that approach. It’s better to avoid illnesses or treat them in the early stages. Thank you so much for commenting, regards Christina Like Reply
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Journalling as a Self Care Activity

Journalling as a Self Care Activity

How Journalling can help you deal with emotions

Journalling may be used as part of your daily self care routine. I have always found journalling to be a very positive way of channeling my emotions into something positive. Writing has always been my preferred form of self expression, ever since I was a teenager. I read my journal from when I was a 17 year old and that was an eye-opener! So much teen-aged angst.

My most productive period of journalling was when I was going through my divorce. I filled whole journals because the emotions I was feeling were often so extreme, and changing day to day, that I didn’t feel like I could share them with other people. A divorce is similar to losing a loved one – it is a type of grieving and it is a type of loss. My journalling helped during my times of loss of my mother, sister and father as well. My confidantes weren’t always available, and therapists weren’t much good at 11pm when I needed them!

Journalling can help with insomnia

I suffer extreme insomnia and can lie awake for hours with my anxious mind working overtime. Journalling is the best way I have of stopping those constant cogs rotating in my brain. As a self care activity, it has obvious advantages – it’s free, it’s easy to do, and you can do it almost anywhere. There are even apps for your phone to record your thoughts.

Self Care Journal Prompts
Journal Prompts to be used as a self care activity

Journalling as a self care activity is a constructive way to deal with your emotions. Just writing them down can clarify those emotions for you and help you to understand how you really feel. Often our emotions are so confusing that it’s hard to put a finger on what it actually is that we’re experiencing. Journalling can help you to frame those thoughts and make sense out of them.

Journal prompts are a great way to start you off when you are journalling. You may just need one journal prompt, or you may want to write something about all of them. I have put together a list of the journal prompts that I find most helpful.

What didn’t go well today?

Start with this if you have had a bad day. Journalling can help to identify the emotion and channel it into a positive activity. Bottling up feelings or using vices like alcohol and drugs to cope, are not positive ways to deal with emotions. They may offer a temporary fix, but the feelings will still be there

What emotion am I feeling? Anger, sadness, guilt, grief, disappointment

Feel the emotion. Write down everything you are feeling. It may help to write a letter to the person you are angry at – not to give to them of course. Some people burn the letter as a way of symbolic release of those emotions, and coming to terms with feelings about that person.

If you still are struggling to cope with extreme emotions after a few weeks, seek help. If you are feeling like self harm or suicide is the only answer, please seek immediate help

What am I Grateful For?

Writing a gratitude list can help us to become more optimistic over time. There is always something to be grateful for, even when things seem really grim. Some suggestions may be:

  • Having a nice meal
  • My job
  • Our home
  • My family
  • Something I am good at
  • The sunshine
  • Rain for my garden
  • My health
  • I am safe and secure

What Have I done for Myself Today?

My recent blog, Prioritising Self Care had some suggestions on self care activities. Self care activities can be small things we do for ourselves like take a walk, have a bath, listen to some uplifting music, read a book or get a professional massage. If you realise you’ve gone the whole day without doing a self care activity, can you finish the day off by doing something? If not, can you start tomorrow off by doing something for yourself?

What were the Good Things I Noticed Today?

This is similar to What am I Grateful For, but it’s all the little things that made you smile. Think of simple things like coffee, sunshine, nice perfume, your pet doing something funny, an uplifting conversation, an enjoyable movie. Today while I was walking my dog I smelt an exquisite perfume – there must have been a tree in bloom because it was very strong but the tree was hidden from view. It’s moments like this that make you smile. The first whiff of coffee brewing always makes my morning routine go well.

When I first had a smart phone I loved the fact that I had a portable camera with me all the time. I loved taking photos of everyday things like birds on a wire, a lovely flower or cloud formations. I had a new appreciation for the beauty around me in the everyday things we take for granted. Try doing this as a simple exercise in boosting your morale.

What Am I Most Looking Forward To?

This year has shown us that life is not about superficial things like prestige and possessions. With restrictions to our activities and losing the freedoms we once took for granted, society has realised that the most important things are our loved ones and our health. Not being able to move around freely has taken its toll. Without a doubt, we are all looking forward to something, and hoping this pandemic gets under control soon so that we can go back to normal life.

Write down what you are most looking forward to.

  • When do I think it will happen?
  • What can I do to aim towards that?
  • If I can’t do it now, is there an alternative thing I can do? (for example, if it’s seeing my family interstate, can I organise a Zoom meeting? If it’s going to the gym, can I do a class online?

Journal Prompts Printable List

I have created a printable list of the journal prompts that you may use to record your journalling. Feel free to use it.

Instructions:

  • Click “Download”
  • Either download to your computer files, or print (top right hand corner)
  • Print as many copies as you like
Self Care Journal Prompts - this free printable may be used as part of your daily self care routine. Journalling can help you to cope with life's stressors by increasing your wellbeing.
this free printable may be used as part of your daily self care routine. Journalling can help you to cope with life’s stressors by increasing your wellbeing.

I hope you find these journal prompts useful. Please comment and let me know of any other journal prompts that you use.

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Please note: I am not a registered mental health practitioner. The information provided in this article is for general informational and educational purposes only and should not replace information provided by your own mental health practitioner. Please refer to my Disclaimer

Australian Mental Health Services
Phone and web contact details for Australian Mental Health Services

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